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3D Animation Education Requirements and Career Information

Job Descriptions February 19, 2013

3D animation combines art and science, and careers in this profession conglomerate around the gaming and film industries. Educational options range from certificate to graduate degree programs, providing training in the rendering and modeling of animated environments and characters.

Career Information – 3D Animation

Careers in film and gaming are often pursued by professional 3D animators who also have employment opportunities in other industries, with job titles such as game designer, visual effects artist, special effects animator, storyboard artist, character animator, animator and concept artist.

3D Animation in Film

3D animators in the film industry develop animations and photo-realistic models for everything from creatures to scenery. Knowledge of anatomy, scriptwriting, human and animal motion, storyboarding, cinematography, lighting, and acting are all in the bailiwick of 3D film animators. Jobs in the industry could include the match moving, storyboarding, creation of 3D models that are the art of tracking a camera via a shot to allow 3-dimensional models to be inserted with the correct motion and positioning.

3D Animation in Gaming

Computer and console game manufacture is another career option for 3D animators. Almost every modern electronic game relies on 3D animation of some kind or other. In gaming, 3D animators have to convey animal and human motion and use lighting to good effect, just as in making animation films. However, gaming animation is different from film animation in terms of interactive storytelling and character design.

3D Animation in Other Fields

Advertising, graphic design and web design are three other fields in which 3D animators can pursue careers. Although there are various career possibilities in these industries, designers usually work as freelancers and frequently need to have additional knowledge in illustration, graphic art or web programming.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

In May 2008, animators and multimedia artists earned an average annual salary of $56,330 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, though there tends to be a lot of variation in the income of freelance designers and artists. During the period from 2008 to 2018, job growth of twelve percent has been projected for these professionals; this optimistic projection is due to an expectation of increase in jobs, in the multimedia industry.

Education Requirements – 3D Animation

Demonstrable work quality rather than a requisite certificate or degree is likely to help a 3D animator land a job in the field. The key to getting hired is creating a good demo reel. The more prestigious an employer or job is; candidates will likely be required to complete some form of post-secondary education.

Program Options – 3D Animation

Many colleges and universities offer one or two years associate or certificate degree programs specifically in 3-dimensional animation, both in classroom and online settings. Some schools offer digital animation undergraduate degree programs that could include training in 2D and 3D animation or similar subjects. Some colleges and universities may offer graduate degree programs in animation. Several schools employ professionals directly from 3D animation industry to serve as faculty. Classes focus on subjects such as:

•Animation Production
•Dynamic Simulation
•Rigging and Animation
•Set and Environment Production
•3D Character Creation
•Surface Properties
•Surface Modeling

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